It’s easy to spot the tourists in Colorado by how they drive in the mountains. Death grip on the steering wheel, riding the breaks on every downhill turn, license plate any color but green. I get it. I used to be terrified of those harrowing alpine passes, too. Now I could take those switchbacks in my sleep, a proverbial badge of pride for having lived in Colorado for more than half a decade. It’s hard not to chuckle as they try to maneuver the sharp curves, though.
Crossing the mighty Rockies is often a necessary evil to enjoy the bounty of natural wonders the state has to offer. The peaks stand like a protective wall, sequestering our little utopia from reality. A real-life Never Never Land, Colorado is where adults come to forget their troubles and unwind. It’s a place where people work to live, not live to work with midday hikes and cycling commonplace. It’s a place where you can be whitewater rafting in the morning and hot springs hopping in the afternoon, or sipping a craft beer on a patio and watching the many passersby. It’s no wonder everyone is flocking here, yet you still feel a twinge of resentment wanting to keep the secret to yourself just a little bit longer.
Breathe in the crisp mountain air and you’ll see immediately why nature is the cheapest therapy here. Gondola rides never get old and it’s hard not to stare in awe of the hazy, snow-covered peaks in the distance. No matter how many times you drive through the Eisenhower Tunnel, if you don’t hold your breath out of superstition, you’re doing it wrong. They say it’s about the journey as much as the destination, and nowhere does that ring truer than a road trip through the Rocky Mountain State.
Here are eight of the many places to get lost during a weekend getaway in Colorado.